Protected Bikeways


The Bicycle Transportation Alliance has a vision for a Portland Metro region where everyone can choose to meet their daily needs on a bicycle. We want a healthier and wealthier community, where businesses are thriving and everyone can access the basic services, jobs, and education they need to be successful. Protected bike lanes can help us get there, by making our big streets safe and stress-free, however you travel. Protected bikeways make bicycling attractive and accessible to people who otherwise wouldn’t bike or would stick to neighborhood streets and trails, away from our vibrant employment and commercial centers.


What is a protected bike lane, exactly?

A protected bikeway is an on-street bike lane with more than just a white line of paint between the bicycle and car lanes. They combine the comfort of a trail with the directness and connectivity of on-street routes. There are many different ways to protect a bikeway: diagonal painted stripes, posts, curbs, small bumps, large bumps, parked cars, planters, sidewalks, raising the bikeway above the level of the road, and more. What all these designs have in common is that spaces for biking, walking, and driving are clearly marked and separated from one another, with more than a few inches of white paint.

Raised cycle track in Hillsboro.

Raised cycle track in Hillsboro, OR.

Protected lane with bollards in Washington, DC. Credit: DDOT DC via PeopleForBikes.

Protected lane with bollards in Washington, DC. Credit: DDOT DC via PeopleForBikes.

Parking-protected lane in Chicago. Credit: PeopleForBikes.

Parking-protected lane in Chicago. Credit: PeopleForBikes.

Two-way protected lane in Austin, TX. Credit: PeopleForBikes.

Two-way protected lane in Austin, TX. Credit: PeopleForBikes.

What are the benefits of protected bike lanes?

Credit: Greg Raisman.

Credit: Greg Raisman.

1. Protected bike lanes are good for business. Customers who shop by bike spend more money per month than those who arrive by car, (1,2) and businesses along streets with new protected bikeways are growing faster than those elsewhere (3). Bike commuters use fewer sick days, have lower health care costs, and report higher productivity (4). Good bike facilities can help companies attract fit, talented employees, especially younger workers who are biking more and driving less (5). Property and home values increase near streets with protected bikeways and bike lanes (6). To top it all off, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure projects are much less expensive (7) and create more jobs than car-only projects (8).


Families safely traveling to school.

 2. Protected bike lanes keep everyone safe. Almost all people feel safer biking in protected bike lanes (9,10,11), and these lanes can reduce risk of injury for bicyclists by up to 90% (12). They’re safer for everyone else, too: injury crashes decrease by 40-50% for all people on New York City streets with protected bike lanes (13).




Source: University of Chicago,

55th Street, Chicago. Credit: University of Chicago, via PeopleForBikes.

3. Protected bike lanes are good for biking.
Cities across the country have seen bicycling rates skyrocket on streets with new protected bike lanes: increases of 55% on Kinzie St. in Chicago, 190% on Prospect Park West in NYC, and a whopping 266% on Spruce and Pine Streets in Philadelphia (14). People who already bike choose to ride more after protected bike lanes are installed (11), and most Portlanders say they would be much more comfortable biking on streets with protected lanes (15). This is especially true for the majority of the population who would like to bike more but are concerned about their safety.

Blue Bonnet Cycle Track, Austin. Source: PeopleForBikes.

Blue Bonnet Cycle Track, Austin. Credit: PeopleForBikes.

4. Protected bike lanes are  good for everyone! Even people who never ride bikes are far more comfortable on streets with protected bikeways(16), and these streets are safer for everyone. Protected bike lanes also result in less sidewalk riding, creating a more comfortable pedestrian environment (17). It’s no wonder that residents near new protected bike lanes in D.C. overwhelmingly support the bike lanes and consider them valuable assets to the neighborhood- even if they don’t bicycle themselves (10).






How do I build a protected bike lane?

  • Get inspiration from these photos of 19 beautiful ways to protect a bike lane.
  • Get guidance on selecting the best facility from Washington County’s Bicycle Facility Design Toolkit.
  • Fine-tune your plans with the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide.
  • Compare the options for cost, comfort, durability and more with this chart.
  • It’s easy. Just ask these folks in Minneapolis who built a pop-up protected bikeway for only $600 in a few hours, or the Seattle Department of Transportation who turned a guerrilla group’s installation into a permanent facility.

Want more? Check out the Green Lane Project’s handy stats page:

1. Kelly J. Clifton, Sara Morrisey, and Chloe Ritter, “Business Cycles: Catering to the Bicycling Market” (TR News, Vol. 280, May-June 2012),
2. Fred Stzabinski, “Bike Lanes, On-Street Parking and Business: A Study of Bloor Street in Toronto’s Annex Neighborhood” (Clean Air Partnership, 2009),
3. “Measuring the Street: New Metrics for 21st Century Streets” (New York City Department of Transportation, 2012),
4. Michael Andersen and Mary Lauran Hall, “Protected Bike Lanes Mean Business” (PeopleForBikes and Alliance for Biking and Walking, 2014), p. 25,
5. Tony Dutzik and Phineas Baxandall, “A New Direction: Our Changing Relationship with Driving and the Implications for America’s Future” (US PIRG Education Fund, Frontier Group, 2013), p. 21,
6. Andersen and Hall 2014, p. 10, 12.
7. Michael Andersen, “No, Protected Bike Lanes Are Probably Not Too Expensive for Your City to Build” (PeopleForBikes, 2014),
8. Heidi Garrett-Peltier, “Pedestrian and Bicycle Infrastructure: A National Study of Employment Impacts” (Political Economy Research Institute, 2011). See
9. Brad Aaron, “TA Poll: Majority of Citi Bike Users Want Protected Car-Free Bike Lanes” (StreetsBlog NYC, 2013),
10. Jamie Parks et al., “Bicycle Facility Evaluation, Washington, D.C.” (Kittleson & Associates, Inc., Portland State University, and Toole Design Group for District Department of Transportation, 2012),
11. Andersen and Hall 2014, 24.
12. Kay Teschke et al., “Route Infrastructure and the Risk of Injuries to Bicyclists: A Case-Crossover Study” (American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 102, No. 12, Dec. 2012, pp. 2336-2343),
13. Howard Wolfson, “Memorandum: Bike Lanes” (The City of New York, Office of the Mayor, 2011),
14. Andersen and Hall 201422.
15. Jennifer Dill, “Categorizing Cyclists: What Do We Know? Insights from Portland, Oregon” (Portland State University and OTREC, presented at Velo-City Global 2012 in Vancouver, B.C., 2012),
16. Tanya Snyder, “In California Cities, Drivers Want More Bike Lanes. Here’s Why.” (StreetsBlog USA, 2013),
17. Janette Sadik-Khan, “Columbus Avenue Parking-Protected Bicycle Path Preliminary Assessment” (New York City Department of Transportation, presentation to Community Board 7, 2011),

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Comments (1)

  1. Michael Andersen Permalink  | Jun 18, 2014 04:15pm

    Awesome post!